Drownings, are at risk of upward trends. There are a number of reasons and theories behind this, which include increased distractions, increased exposure to water sources, etc., but one factor the majority of the population may not be aware of is the increase in drowning risk due to Autism and related disorders.
According to a March, 2014 CDC report, 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) were identified as having autism in the United States. The prevalence Autism is widespread and chances are you know or will soon come in contact with someone impacted by this disorder.
So What is Autism and What is the Connection with Drownings?
"Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurological disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate, understand language, play, and socially interact with others. The first signs of ASD usually appear as developmental delays before the age of three and while no two cases of Autism are identical, signs can include difficulty in using and understanding language, difficulty in using social skills and navigating social situations, over or under sensitivity to sound, sight, taste, touch, or smell, repetitive behaviors such as spinning or lining up objects, difficulty with changes to surroundings or routines and challenging behaviors such as aggression or self-injury." USF CARD
Similar to wandering behaviors in seniors with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, children with Autism are prone to wandering away from a safe environment. In additional and for a reason experts are unable to explain at this time, individuals with ASD show an increased fascination with water, this fascination does not diminish with age.
Unfortunately, accidental drowning claims 90% of lives of lethal ASD wandering cases.
The leading cause of death in all ASD individuals 14 and younger is accidental drowning at a staggering 91%.
We encourage you to please visit the University of South Florida’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders website to learn more about what you can do to lower the risk of drowning for every child, and especially those with ASD. USF CARD not only has a wonderful water safety program supporting 14 counties centered around Tampa, FL, but also assist families in these areas with children on the spectrum in a number of ways from home visits, resources and education.
For our families impacted by ASD outside of USF CARD's support area, fear not! Many CARD support organizations are scattered thorough the state and possible further. You can either contact USF CARD for a suggestion or simply search yourself on the web.
University of South Florida - Center for Autism and Related Disorders Website
Rachel Warren publishes the majority of Blog postings for AGH, is a strong advocate for water safety and related injury prevention working tirelessly at the county and state levels to strengthen and improve water safety campaigns, initiatives and promote these campaigns through community outreach programs of AGH.